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January 26, 2021

Chicken tortilla soup in a colorful bowl with a small glass bowl of cilantro in the background

In wintertime, I want to come home to a supper that’s ready to eat and will warm me up, inside and out. This spicy soup hits the spot! If you like more zip in your soup, use hot green chiles or hot salsa instead of mild.

Rinse the canned beans to reduce the sodium in this recipe and keep your broth clear. Don’t forget our handy trick for shredding chicken in a hurry: you can use a hand-held mixer on low speed to shred it!


Browned ground beef, chopped onions, celery, and garlic in a non-stick skillet ready to spoon into individual freezer bags.

Go Green: Save Money with Magic Meat Mixes

March 23, 2018

I love to cook, but I’m always interested in learning about shortcuts.
That’s why I was really excited to watch this episode of “The Food Factor” – because MSU Extension Agent Natasha Haynes talks about saving time and money! (Photo by Brian Utley and Jonathan Parrish)

A piece of hardware cloth encircles a small, layered pile of organic waste.

Go Green: How to Start a Compost Pile

March 20, 2018

Compost is a great soil conditioner. It helps the soil hold water and improves clay and sandy soils. Starting your own pile is easy and can help keep organic waste out of landfills. (Photo by Gary Bachman)

A medical doctor holds a vile of medication and talks to a young man in the Rural Medical and Science Scholars program.

Explore Healthcare and Science Careers with Extension Program

March 16, 2018

Do you know a high school student interested in working in the medical field or a related science career one day?
The Rural Medical and Science Scholars program could be for them.
(Photo by Kevin Hudson)

A green smoothie fills a tall clear drinking glass and has a red and white striped straw in it.

Go Green: How to Make a Green Smoothie

March 13, 2018

Confession: I have made some disgusting smoothies.
Whenever I’ve attempted to simply throw together a few ingredients, I have ended up with something that looked and tasted awful. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

Side by side photos showing the right and wrong ways to mulch around a tree trunk. (Photos by Kevin Hudson and Gary Bachman)

Go Green - Mulch

March 8, 2018

What do doughnuts and volcanoes have in common?

Mulch.

Properly applied, mulch can:

Photo of a gray and white Craftsman style house illustrates a list of seven tips for making homes healthier.

Go Green: Make Your Own Household Cleaners

March 5, 2018

Taking care of your home will make it a healthier environment for your loved ones. (Illustration designed by Beth Barron)

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In the Field with Jay McCurdy: Pre-emergent Herbicides for the Lawn

March 2, 2018

If you want to get rid of weeds in your home lawn, now is the time to apply herbicides to control them.

Late February and early March is the ideal window to apply pre-emergent herbicides that control various weeds in home lawns. But you want to make sure you buy the right ones and apply them correctly.

Miniature green bok choi plants grow in small window box containers.

Go Green: How to Simplify Gardening

February 26, 2018

Intimidated by gardening? Yes?
Our advice: start small. You don’t have to commit to a half-acre garden. Try planting a few of your favorite vegetables in containers.
(Photo by Gary Bachman)

A brown swallowtail butterfly with white spots drinks nectar from a flowering pink and yellow lantana plant.

How to Plant a Pollinator-Friendly Landscape

February 23, 2018

Sometimes bad news can feel overwhelming, as if one person can do little to make a difference. Growing plants that support honeybees and butterflies doesn’t solve a major world problem, but it can give these important pollinators a boost while also offering loads of beautiful color to your yard or garden. Now is the time to plan! (Photo credit: Kat Lawrence)

A woman with a dog in front of chocolates, which can make dogs sick.

Love Your Pet Day

February 20, 2018

It’s National Love Your Pet Day, so give those four-legged family members extra special treatment. More noggin’ pats and extra-long walks are in order. But be careful with the treats. Some human foods can be harmful to pets. For dogs, that includes chocolate. (Photo/video credit: MSU Extension/ Brian Utley)

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About Extension for Real Life

Extension for Real Life is a product of the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications.

That’s a long way of saying we are professional communicators who get to talk about food, families, 4-H, flowers, and farming for a living.

Blog content is created by a core team of communicators, including Susan Collins-Smith, Ellen Graves, Natasha Haynes, Keri Lewis, Michaela Parker, and Jonathan Parrish. But we get by with a lot of help from our friends in Ag Comm and Extension!

You can reach us at 662-325-2262 or extreallife@msstate.edu